No place to hide

Read: Genesis 3-5, Matthew 2

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV)

We can all look at this verse and have a bit of a chuckle. Who does Adam think he is to try and hide from God? Did he really think that God wouldn’t know what was going on? That he wouldn’t be found out? It’s almost like a toddler trying to play hide and seek. When someone calls out their name, they’re conditioned to answer and when they do, they give away their hiding spot. Adam is trying to hide and gives himself away all at the same time.

Cain tried something similar after killing his brother, Abel.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:9 (NIV)

It seems so silly, trying to hide things from God. We know that He knows everything. But there are still things we try to hide, to cover up. We keep secrets and, even though deep down we know that God knows, it’s almost as though we hope He doesn’t.

Doing what is right may sometimes seem difficult in the moment, but even more difficult are the consequences of doing wrong. After God refused Cain’s offering, He had a little chat with him.

Geneses 4:7

Obviously, Cain did not take the conversation to heart because he went out and brutally killed his own brother. His reason? Abel’s offering was accepted and his was not. Cain opened the door to sin and allowed it to get a foot inside.

If you’ve already opened the door to sin, there is a way to shut it again—Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

And if the door is still closed, keep it that way. In just the first four chapters of the Bible, we learn that it is much easier to have everything out in the open rather than try to hide things from God. Would God have responded to Adam differently if he’d gone to Him immediately after realising his mistake? Maybe. We’ll never know. But we can learn from it.

Our approach to God must be on His terms. But they are not difficult terms and He’s promised to help us when we reach out to Him. There is no place to hide with God. And that’s a good thing.

 

Plead your case

Today’s culture has made the blame game popular. Everyone loves to be the victim and point out villains. We all want to have our voices heard, the chance to plead our case.

Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.”

Micah 6:1 (NLT)

Hey, that’s awesome! God is inviting us to state our case. If you have a complaint against God, now is the time to let it be known! Go ahead, let’s hear it.

“And now, O mountains, listen to the Lord’s complaint!”

Micah 6:2a (NLT)

Uh oh.

Here’s the deal, we all want to plead our case, but no one is interested in being pleaded against. It’s not fun. No one wants their faults or secrets pointed out. We don’t want to be blamed for anything whether we’re innocent or guilty.

Many are keen to paint God as a tyrant. The bully on the playground. The great villain of the ages. These people tend to be the ones hollering to have their case heard, but are the first to run and hide when someone calls them out on their own behavior. Here’s the lesson: don’t try to call God out unless you want to be called out yourself.

So how do we avoid having all of our dirty laundry aired with all of creation as a witness?

No, O people, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what he required: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 (NLT)

You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You can either walk humbly with God and avoid a very public trial, or you can do whatever you want and face God as judge. It’s not difficult. God has not given us impossible instructions.

Moral duties are commanded because they are good for man. In keeping God’s commandments there is a great reward, as well as after keeping them. God has not only made it known, but made it plain. The good which God requires of us is, not the paying a price for the pardon of sin and acceptance with God, but to love himself; and what is there unreasonable, or hard in this?

Matthew Henry

Avoiding the punishment for sin is simple. We must love God and accept His love in return. That’s it. If you’d rather take your changes and plead your case, be my guest. But you can’t say that you haven’t been warned.

On his deathbed, Matthew Henry made this statement: “A life spent in the service of God and communion with Him is the most pleasant life that anyone can live in this world.” Wouldn’t you rather walk with God than fight against Him?

Daily Bible reading: Micah 6-7, Revelation 12

What’s in a name?

There are a lot of people in this world who will tell you they’re a Christian. Maybe they were baptized as a kid or they go to church on Christmas and Easter. But is that what makes you a Christian—just calling yourself one? Noah Webster didn’t think so.

CHRISTIAN: A real disciple of Christ; one who believes in the truth of the Christian religion, and studies to follow the example, and obey the precepts, of Christ; a believer in Christ who is characterized by real piety.

There are many who believe that a simple profession of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is what makes you a Christian. I believe that profession is what makes you a believer. It’s everything that you do afterward that makes you a Christian.

By definition, being a Christian means that you should be ever striving to act like Christ. It’s right there in the name. Paul wrote an entire letter to Titus discussing how Christians should conduct themselves.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.

Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

Christians, true Christians, should turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should talk different. We should act different. And people should notice. If you claim the name of Christ, truly claim it. Live it. Act like him.

Imagine what this world would look like if every single person who claimed the name of Jesus Christ really acted like him. If, instead of churches full of nominal Christians, we went out on the street and actually lived the life we claim to have chosen when we first called on Jesus.

Salvation is free. It’s a gift for all people. But the name of Christ should be reserved for those who follow his example, those who are totally committed to doing what is right.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 31-32, Titus 2

Your name here

As we read the Bible, we should always take into consideration the context in which the verses were written. Who wrote them? Who are they talking to? Are they talking about a specific event or period of time? Is it culturally relevant? There are many variables that can change the way we perceive the Word of God. As Pastor Morris Watson put it in his message Do You Know What You’re Asking For?, not everything in the Bible is meant for us personally. But that’s not to say that we can’t take some of it personally.

There are those who like to take scripture and insert their own name into it. I’m not usually one to make a habit of it, but since today’s portion of scripture already has a name in it, why not try inserting your own name in place of Timothy’s?

But you, (insert your name here), belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love,  perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for what we believe. Hold tightly to the eternal life that God has given you, which you have confessed so well before so many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

Paul has been writing to Timothy about avoiding many of the pitfalls the Jewish nation was prone to. We’re pretty much in the same boat as the Jews were at that time. The world pushes against us trying to force us into their way of thinking and holding on to the truth becomes more and more difficult.

So today, if you find your faith being pressured, remember these words. Insert your name here and remember that you belong to God. Follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life. All of these things that Paul encouraged Timothy to do still apply to us today.

Take these words to heart. Take them personally and then you and I can fight the good fight for what we all believe.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 17-19, 1 Timothy 6

Find the time

I recently had my father and two of my nephews in the car. We were heading out to watch another of my nephews (I have seven nephews) play football. We’d barely pulled off the street when I looked back to see the older of the two pull a video game out of his pocket. I asked my dad if he was supposed to have it. He’d been told to leave it at home.

“Hey, Kiddo,” I said reaching back. “You’re not supposed to have that. Hand it over.”

“Well, I guess I forgot I had it in my pocket.” (The flaw in this story was the speed in which he pulled it out of his pocket once we started driving.) He handed it over and I put in the console of the car. When it slipped out, I had my dad put it in his pocket.

When we got home later that evening, my nephew wouldn’t get out of the car. He was squishing himself between the front seats reaching for the console—where he’d last seen his video game. In a matter of minutes, he forgot that it was in his pocket, but over several hours, he didn’t forget where he’d seen me put it…

Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.

Ecclesiastes 8:5b (NLT)

My nephew is eight years old. And he’s smart. Really smart. But still largely lacking in the wisdom department. He had a desired outcome—to have his game with him when we left the house. In order to get to that outcome, the cost was willful disobedience and a lie to try to cover it up.

Most of us would look at this situation and shake our heads. Yet, we’ve probably done something similar in our adult lives. There is an outcome we desire and we make some decisions to get there. A few people may get hurt or shunned along the way, but we plow ahead on the most direct route to get what we want. But what if there was a less direct way to get there? What if we didn’t have to hurt someone to get it? The wisest course of action isn’t always the most direct and, sometimes, it’s taking no action at all.

Wisdom takes the time looks at the outcome, determines whether it is necessary or not, then determines the best way to either go after it or avoid it altogether.

We must all make choices on a daily basis. It is wisdom that will lead us to do what is right. Wisdom finds right the time and the right way to do it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Just the right time

There’s a lot of waiting for the right time. We hear it often. There’s a right time for farmers to plant crops. There’s a right time for a couple to start a family. There’s a right time for that special person to come along. There’s a right time to start school. There’s a right time for that promotion. There’s a right time for just about everything.

Because we spend so much of our lives waiting for the right time, it often has an effect on our response to Jesus. Some people are told that they have to wait for the right time for salvation. Well, guess what? It’s now!

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

There are those that may leave the impression that a person must be in the right place in their lives in order to be saved. You need to finish something. You need to change something. You need to know more. You need to do less.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NLT)

Utterly helpless. That doesn’t sound like a person who has it all together. That sounds like a person who has completely fallen apart. That is the person Jesus came to save. Jesus didn’t die only for those people who are good enough. News flash—no one is good enough. We cannot save ourselves from our own sin.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

Jesus took to the cross of his own free will knowing full-well that there would be those who would refuse his sacrifice. There would be those who would try to earn the gift that he was giving. Some might even try to pay for it. Knowing all of that, he still gave up his life on the cross for all of us who would recognise our own sinfulness and humble ourselves enough to accept what he went through—shedding his blood as the final sacrifice that would wipe our sins from all heavenly record.

Because of Jesus, we can step into a new relationship with God free from any guilt and shame that may plague us.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.

Romans 5:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 73-74, Romans 5

It is I

Have you ever been wrong? Of course not! What a silly question.

I’m sure we’d all like to answer that we’ve never been wrong in our lives, but I’m pretty sure we’d all be lying through our teeth to do so. Whether we’re ill-informed, ignorant, or just plain wrong, it happens to us all. And it will happen again.

So what do we do when we’re on the losing side of a debate? Do you clench your teeth and refuse to listen to the other party? Do you walk away? Do you listen while all the while planning your next response? Or do you pay attention with patience and an attitude of humility? Are you able to admit when you’re wrong?

For several weeks now in our daily reading, we’ve been listening to Job whine on and on. He believes that if he can plead his case before God, God will see the error in His ways and restore back to Job all that was taken from him. He figured he could beat God in a debate.

In the end, God shows him up in just a couple of chapters. And He does it in mighty fashion. Job cannot deny his own error. He can now either turn from God—as the devil figured he would when this whole mess started—or he can continue to be the righteous man God claimed he was.

Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.

Job 42:1-3 (NLT)

I am sure that there are many out there who would believe that admitting they are wrong would be telling the world they’re idiots. Nothing could be further from the truth! To be able to admit wrong is a sign of both humility and wisdom. It means that you are willing to learn and that you are willing to lower yourself to do so. Only idiots refuse to admit their wrongs.

Our own understanding will only get us so far—it didn’t get Job anywhere. That is why there are so many verses that speak of getting wisdom and understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgement.

Proverbs 4:7 (NLT)

Wisdom and humility go hand in hand. Had Job refused to humble himself and admit his wrongs, it is doubtful that he would have received a double portion of prosperity in his latter years.

Sometimes, the wisest thing we can say is, “It is I. I was walking about things I didn’t understand.”

Daily Bible reading: Job 40-42, Acts 15:22-41